RALEIGH — The Hurricanes waited until the final moments before the March 21 trade deadline to finalize a deal with Columbus that brought Max Domi to Carolina for the stretch run and postseason.
It paid off in Game 7 against the Bruins.
Domi had two goals and an assist to lead the Hurricanes to a 3-2 win over Boston in front of a PNC Arena-record crowd of 19,513 to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“It kind of seemed like him coming out of his bubble there, which is awesome,” Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin said of Domi. “That’s great, and hopefully he can continue to be great going forward for us. Two huge goals and he had three points on the night.”
The do-or-die win was far from a one-man show.
Antti Raanta made 27 saves, none bigger than stopping Taylor Hall on a 2-on-1 when the game was 0-0 by exploding across and protecting his five-hole.
“(Erik) Haula was coming with a lot of speed,” Raanta said, “and then was it instincts or something? You just feel he went to his backhand and then when you saw the pass going, you just tried to do something, tried to get something in front.
“I was able to get my leg there and keep it out of the net. … You try to make those saves and give your team a chance to score the first one and get the lead.”
Jordan Staal and his linemates neutralized Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, just as they had in the three previous home games in the series.
“He’s our leader,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “He does it right. And everyone just kind of follows suit. When you have a guy that plays that way, it makes a coach’s job very easy.”
And Jaccob Slavin did Jaccob Slavin things, shutting down chance after chance while picking up two assists in more than 24 minutes of ice time.
“Our top guys played really noticeably well,” Brind’Amour said. “Tough to find anyone who didn’t play well, but it was the right way. Everything was right from the start.”
But no one had a bigger night the Domi, the 27-year-old forward who many saw as a bargain bin addition at the deadline and only scored twice in 19 games after coming over from the Blue Jackets.
He matched that Saturday.
After assisting on the game’s opening goal, Domi got his first career playoff goal in the moments after Carolina was unable to score on a four-minute power play that spanned the opening two periods.
Domi dug the puck out of the corner and got it to the point. Brady Skjei’s point shot was tipped by Staal. The puck went right to Domi at the right of the net, and he quickly got the puck to his backhand and batted it in to give Carolina a 2-0 lead at 3:14 of the second.
“He fits our mold,” Staal said of Domi. “He’s a guy that’s ready and willing to work and do whatever it takes. It’s nice to see him get rewarded some big goals and big moments for our team.”
Then after Jake DeBrusk scored just under two minutes later, Domi built the lead back to two again.
Vincent Trocheck won a race a dump-in and check the puck back to Teuvo Teravainen, who found a seam in the Boston defense. Domi cruised between the circle and one-timed the pass past Jeremy Swayman (28 saves) for a 3-1 lead at 10:33 of the second.
“That’s an unbelievable play by Vinnie getting in on the forecheck and a better pass by Turbo,” Domi said. “I was just the lucky guy on the end of it for all three (goals).”
The Hurricanes then went into lockdown mode, with Skjei and Brett Pesce assisting the Staal line in slowing Bergeron & Co. while Boston’s second and third lines failed to generate much.
Boston got its only power play chance of the game when Carolina defenseman Brendan Smith cleared the puck over the glass with just over six minutes remaining, but the Hurricanes’ penalty kill held the Bruins without a shot as the crowd urged on the home team.
The Bruins still didn’t roll over until the final horn. With Swayman on the bench for an extra attacker, Skjei’s stick awkwardly broke at the blade while trying to deflect a pass and he retreated to the bench for a new stick.
Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy’s point shot was blocked by Pesce, but David Pastrnak — in the spot Skjei had vacated — had the deflection come right to him for a goal with just under 22 seconds left.
Boston threw one more last-gasp effort at Raanta, but the Hurricanes goalie and his teammates scrambled around the Carolina crease to keep out the equalizer, clinching a win and advancing to the second round.
“When they got the second one, it was probably the longest 20 seconds of my life,” said Raanta, who was joined midway through his availability by his daughter, Evelyn. “When the puck got back deep and they got their chance. It was just a scramble until the end, but when the buzzer sounded it was probably the best feeling in a long time.”
Raanta seemed to be feeling good from the start, making the early stop on Hall to allow the Hurricanes to score the first goal for the sixth time in the seven-game series.
Slavin saucered a pass through a maze of sticks to Domi on Swayman’s left, and Domi quickly slid a pass to Teravainen for the goal and a 1-0 lead at 18:36.
“That’s a heck of a play by Slavo, and Turbo buried it,” Domi said. “It was a big goal.”
Carolina now waits for the winner of Sunday’s Penguins-Rangers game. The start date for the second round series is not yet set, but Games 1 and 2 will be in Raleigh as the Hurricanes hold home-ice advantage over both potential opponents.
“That’s one step,” Brind’Amour said. “We need to enjoy it today and tomorrow we’ll be, ‘OK, how do we take the next one.’ You do need to take time and enjoy it.”
Notes: Slavin and Tony DeAngelo finished the series with a team-high eight points, followed by seven apiece for Trocheck and Teravainen. … Andrei Svechnikov finished with eight hits, one shy of the career high he set in Game 2 of the series. … Bruins forward Charlie Coyle was on the ice for all three Carolina goals and bobbled a puck on a 2-on-1 in the third period when Boston was pressing.